A would-be freshman Saginaw Valley State University football player told police that he was sexually assaulted by veteran teammates in the team locker room after refusing to partake in a team tradition.
A 25-page police report obtained by MLive.com through the state Freedom of Information Act details an investigation into the 17-year-old's claim that after he refused to sing in front of the team, numerous teammates surrounded him, including some who touched him with their private parts.
MLive.com requested the report a day after SVSU head coach Jim Collins announced that he had suspended offensive linemen Tevon Conrad, Kaleb Forr, Jack Raymond, and Jesse Somsel and defensive end Nate Snyder, citing a violation of team rules, for Saturday's season-opening game. University spokesman J.J. Boehm confirmed that the players were the subject of a criminal investigation.
The report indicates that the incident was investigated as fourth-degree criminal sexual conduct, a high court misdemeanor that carries a maximum penalty of two years in prison. It does not refer to the incident as hazing, which is against the law and university rules.
The report includes summaries of three interviews with the victim, multiple interviews with the suspects, and interviews with 14 witnesses. All names in the report are redacted.
According to the report, the victim's version of events changed in his interviews. The suspects denied any physical contact with the victim, while the witnesses, all football players, either told police that they did not see any contact or were not sure if there was contact.
The teen, who since has left the team and withdrawn from the university, told SVSU Police Chief Ron Trepkowski and Sgt. Chris Rupp that the veteran linemen “were treating him much worse than any of the other freshmen football players.”
The teen said that after he refused to sing, which he said he already had done, some teammates “formed a half circle around him” after a workout session, the report states.
When the teen, who was clothed, tried to escape, his teammates again surrounded him, including two naked veteran linemen who the teen said “deliberately rubbed his penis against (the teen's) back and buttocks.” Another lineman, the report states, “stood on a bench and jumped off toward (the teen). His naked buttocks came into contact with (the teen's) shoulder.”
The teen called his mother, who called head coach Jim Collins and used the word “rape” when describing the incident to the coach, the report states. Collins called Athletic Director Mike Watson, who contacted Chief Trepkowski, the report states.
In a follow-up interview the next morning, the teen told Detective Jamie Teddy that “20 or more naked men cornered me,” the report states. He told the detective that one of the linemen “rubbed his penis on his right hip area for approximately 10 seconds.” Another lineman “slid down (the teen's) right shoulder area with his buttocks,” the report states.
As he tried to leave, two men shoved him into the lockers, the teen told Teddy.
Teddy states in her report that she left the interview “to handle a disorderly subject at Academic Advising” and told the teen that she would return soon to continue the interview. When she returned, the report states, the teen would not open the door. Teddy called the teen, who answered the call and told her that his mother “told him not to talk to the police without his attorney.”
After the teen's mother arrived on campus, Teddy spoke with the freshman again. The teen said two linemen, both naked, “closed the gap between them and pushed their penises onto his hip and leg area,” one for about seven seconds and the other for about three seconds.
The teen said as he left, one of the linemen shoved him.
Teddy's report states that the teen did not mention being shoved by the two teammates he earlier said shoved him. The teen also did not mention the buttocks-to-shoulder contact he described earlier, the report states.
The teen “said that he thought he told me everything I needed to know at that point and appeared anxious to leave the interview,” the report states.
Teddy asked the teen “if he wanted to prosecute the subjects who did this,” the report states. The teen “told me that he knew SVSU wanted to win football games and that he did not want the upperclassmen who did this to him to just get suspended and then be invited back to win football games. (The teen) said that the upperclassmen ruined his life for a week and 'yes,' he did want to prosecute.”
Teddy's report states that she turned the results of the investigation over to the Saginaw County Prosecutor's Office for review to determine whether charges are warranted. County Prosecutor Michael D. Thomas on Thursday declined to confirm whether he's received the investigation from campus police and declined comment on the investigation.
The lawyer for the teen's family, Farmington Hills attorney Scott Rooney, said his “understanding is that the prosecutor still is investigating.”
“We're not aware of anybody from the campus police sending anything to the prosecutor's office,” Rooney said. “We have not been provided with anything.”
Rooney said it is “incorrect” that Collins and Watson spoke with police after a complaint from the teen's family.
“It is incorrect that the coach learned of this from the family first,” Rooney said. “He learned of it from other players before the family learned of it. Additionally, we are the ones who requested a criminal investigation.”
The SVSU Police Department, Rooney said, “tried to keep him from making a report.”
Boehm said Rooney's "claim is absolutely false and clearly contradicted by the police report itself."
Rooney said the family “requested that the (Saginaw County) Sheriff's Department or (Michigan) State Police get involved, but the campus police refused.” He said the family made the request not because investigators did not believe the teen, but “because of the concern on how he was treated” by “essentially” trying to “dissuade him from filing anything.”
Boehm said it was appropriate for the university police department to handle the investigation.
“This was an incident that took place on university grounds,” Boehm said. “Our university police are the appropriate investigating agency for any investigation that takes place on campus. A review of their report would show that they conducted a very thorough investigation.” (source MLlive.com )